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Santa Barbara Man Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty, Felony Assault Charges

A Santa Barbara man pleaded guilty Tuesday to animal cruelty charges after he admitted to torturing his girlfriend's puppy, which later had to be euthanized because of its injuries, and pleaded guilty to assaulting his former girlfriend, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office.

 

Duanying Chen
Duanying Chen

Duanying Chen, 19, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of animal cruelty, felony assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury, witness dissuasion, and violating a court order, the District Attorney's Office said in a statement. Chen also admitted a special allegation of personally using a deadly weapon, a utility lighter, during the commission of one animal cruelty charge by burning the Doberman Pinscher puppy. 

No plea bargain was offered by the District Attorney’s Office in the case and Chen could face up to seven years in prison after he is sentenced next month, District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in a statement. 

Police reported last May that Chen had been arrested for the felonies of domestic battery against his 21-year-old girlfriend as well as a charge of animal cruelty involving her 5-month-old male miniature pinscher puppy, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood of the Santa Barbara Police Department.

On May 14, 2014, an officer responded to a local veterinary hospital where Chen's girlfriend brought the puppy for medical treatment, authorities said.

"The puppy had broken bones, significant infections, and burns over 80 percent of its body," the District Attorney's Office said in a statement. "Ultimately, it was decided that the puppy had to be euthanized."

The puppy was humanely euthanized surrounded by the veterinary staff which spent weeks attempting to rehabilitate him, and police were able to determine that Chen had battered and tortured the puppy by burning him with a utility lighter, according to the District Attorney's Office. 

"Detectives also discovered that Chen’s girlfriend had been strangled several weeks earlier in an act of domestic violence," the statement said. "After his arrest, Chen attempted to have his girlfriend fabricate and destroy evidence in an effort to dissuade her from cooperating with law enforcement."

Chen will be sentenced on June 30 in Santa Barbara County Superior Court

“Credit for this conviction goes to the superb and lengthy investigation of the Santa Barbara Police Department, City Animal Control, and those local individuals willing to come forward with information to assist in (deputy district attorney) Kevin Weichbrod’s rigorous prosecution of these heinous crimes," Dudley said in a statement.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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